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Mavic Air - Very Noisy and Grainy Footage (ISO 100)

adddz

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Hello guys, please take a look at some footage straight out from my Mavic Air.

To me it looks horrible, very grainy/noisy, please don't tell me this is the normality. I've watched many videos on YouTube and even though some might did post processing, they look far better than mine on quality.

The ISO is set to 100, shutter speed double the frame rate and using Polar Pro Cinema Vivid Collections filters, 4K or 2.7K or 1080p.

Please guys help, I need to know if I should ask DJI to replace my drone or this is normal.


 

djiboi

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Take your filters off 1st. They add a layer complexity that won't be useful to debug this issue. Make sure you exposed using the ev indicator. Let use know your profile and saturation, contrast etc.
 

CanadaDrone

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The filters shouldn't matter if he's complaining about noise and already at base ISO, the exposure equation is the same with or without filters and he's using quality filters. The filters have nothing to do with noise/grain if he is at ISO100. As far as I can see on YouTube there, neither image is noisy or grainy and actually look pretty good.

Do keep in mind any areas that are underexposed will usually appear noisier than those that receive a lot of light, that is just the nature of digital imaging sensors.

I have noticed on the MA that 4K looks way better than 1080P (not just do the obvious resolution bump, but the actual quality of the footage) and you are probably better off shooting in 4K and down-sampling/cropping later if you want maximum quality 1080P footage, but I haven't had time to test it thoroughly.
 
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djiboi

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Well they said they had set shutter speed to double the frame rate. If the wrong filter was on, this could under expose the image causing grainy footage.

I would agree the videos look good for the resolution shot in.
 
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CanadaDrone

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Well they said they had set shutter speed to double the frame rate. If the wrong filter was on, this could under expose the image causing grainy footage.

I would agree the videos look good for the resolution shot in.

Agreed, but neither of the sample videos are badly underexposed which is all I was getting at. The second video isn't a great sample because you have uneven bright sunlight combined with dark foliage - that is literally impossible to expose in a single exposure and just isn't going to look that great.

Personally I don't think anything is wrong with his drone, I am not seeing any noise.
 

djiboi

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And the quote the OP

To me it looks horrible, very grainy/noisy, please don't tell me this is the normality. I've watched many videos on YouTube and even though some might did post processing, they look far better than mine on quality.

That is where the skill of photography/cinematography comes into play. Lighting / colour grading being some of the key components
 

wildlifr

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Everything looks normal to me. I don't see the noise you're referring to in the first video, even at full screen, and the second video is such terrible lighting that it would be hard to make any conclusions from it. I can't imagine DJI would say there's something wrong with the camera. Between adjusting camera settings, and spending a little time in post-processing, I don't see why this camera wouldn't produce the same sort of videos that you're seeing on youtube.
 

adddz

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Hey guys, thanks for the many replies, very useful! I shot in D-Cinelike. I just see lot of noise in the trees and in the water that bothers me, but if you say it's normal, then I believe you guys.

Do you think that if I use the Vivid filters, it would be better not to shoot in D-Cinelike?

Yesterday I even switched to 1080p so I could use 100 shutter speed and 50fps, because 30fps and 60 shutter speed was too overexposed.
 

djiboi

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I'll give you a little tip. Unless you are shooting fast motion, ND filters are not needed for aerial photography.
 
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adddz

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I'll give you a little tip. Unless you are shooting fast motion, ND filters are not needed for aerial photography.

But it's widely known that footage looks way better at a proper shutter speed instead of shooting a video with a shutter speed of 1/2000 shutter speed, don't you think?
 

adddz

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I just see compression noise. You have to look at the raw footage to see if it's still there.

You are also right. I see it in the raw footage. How can I upload it on the forum? YouTube compresses everything.
 

CanadaDrone

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Hey guys, thanks for the many replies, very useful! I shot in D-Cinelike. I just see lot of noise in the trees and in the water that bothers me, but if you say it's normal, then I believe you guys.

Do you think that if I use the Vivid filters, it would be better not to shoot in D-Cinelike?

Yesterday I even switched to 1080p so I could use 100 shutter speed and 50fps, because 30fps and 60 shutter speed was too overexposed.

The Vivid filters are just polarized ND filters. Polarization will remove reflections off water, foliage, etc., make the colors a little punchier, and often has a slight warming effect on the image. Polarization is strongest 90 degrees from the sun, and you obviously cannot rotate the filter when the drone is airborne, so you need to plan your flights around that. I think PolarPro naming them "Vivid" is misleading, it's just a ND filter + polarization. For best results you will want to shoot in D-Cinelike with a very low contrast, and then add contrast and color grade it in post processing.

It's not the end of the world if you use 1/100 with 30fps, it's just not absolutely ideal. Your footage won't look choppy until it gets higher. If you are finding it difficult to use 1/60 and get a proper exposure at ISO 100, you need a stronger ND filter - no need to rely on resolution & FPS changes as a crutch.
 
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adddz

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Many useful tips.

- What are the drawbacks on changing the resolution instead of getting a stronger ND filter?
- What are the differences in shooting in D-Cinelike with a very low contrast, adding contrast in the post processing vs shooting in D-Cinelike without a very low contrast? Where are the advantages in tweaking down the saturation and the contrast during the shooting and not in the post processing if needed?
 

CanadaDrone

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Many useful tips.

- What are the drawbacks on changing the resolution instead of getting a stronger ND filter?
- What are the differences in shooting in D-Cinelike with a very low contrast, adding contrast in the post processing vs shooting in D-Cinelike without a very low contrast? Where are the advantages in tweaking down the saturation and the contrast during the shooting and not in the post processing if needed?

There are lots of reasons to shoot in 4K when possible:

1) Archival reasons - 10 years from now I'd much rather have everything in 4K than 1080P for maximum flexibility and longevity
2) Starting with the best gives you more options (cropping for framing adjustments, downsampling, etc.)
3) On the Mavic Air (and Mavic Pro), for whatever reason, 1080P just doesn't look that good. 4K is better IMO (not just due to the resolution but the file quality).
4) If you later wish you shot in 4K, you can't easily up-res it, but you can go the other way.

I'd suggest you get a ND8 and ND16 at minimum, depending on where & when you fly, you may also want to add a ND4 (sunset/sunrise) and a ND32 (extremely bright sun, high noon, etc.).

It also depends on your final usage of the footage. If it's just a fun video to share with family on facebook, ultimate quality is far less important and you may not want to mess around with ND's or 4K. If you are documenting once in a lifetime vacations (or similar), I would definitely want all my raw footage to be the highest possible quality and would be putting in the effort.

Obviously if you want 60-120 FPS you are limited to 1080P on the Air (the Phantom 4 Pro will do 4K/60).

D-Cinelike with a low contrast gives you maximum dynamic range (which is already pretty low on these tiny sensors so you need all you can get) and maximum file malleability in post processing.

If you want to apply your own settings or apply a LUT, you will probably want to be shooting with 0 Sharpness, 0 Saturation, and -3 Contrast. That will give you the cleanest possible slate for post processing. Now, again, you need to consider the end use - if you're just messing around or shooting something for fun, you may not bother with post processing either, so using one of the other presets will deliver a more pleasing result. D-Cinelike with -3 contrast gives very flat and dull footage, it has to be processed, but will yield the best results at the end of the day.
 
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adddz

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There are lots of reasons to shoot in 4K when possible:

1) Archival reasons - 10 years from now I'd much rather have everything in 4K than 1080P for maximum flexibility and longevity
2) Starting with the best gives you more options (cropping for framing adjustments, downsampling, etc.)
3) On the Mavic Air (and Mavic Pro), for whatever reason, 1080P just doesn't look that good. 4K is better IMO (not just due to the resolution but the file quality).
4) If you later wish you shot in 4K, you can't easily up-res it, but you can go the other way.

I'd suggest you get a ND8 and ND16 at minimum, depending on where & when you fly, you may also want to add a ND4 (sunset/sunrise) and a ND32 (extremely bright sun, high noon, etc.).

It also depends on your final usage of the footage. If it's just a fun video to share with family on facebook, ultimate quality is far less important and you may not want to mess around with ND's or 4K. If you are documenting once in a lifetime vacations (or similar), I would definitely want all my raw footage to be the highest possible quality and would be putting in the effort.

Obviously if you want 60-120 FPS you are limited to 1080P on the Air (the Phantom 4 Pro will do 4K/60).

D-Cinelike with a low contrast gives you maximum dynamic range (which is already pretty low on these tiny sensors so you need all you can get) and maximum file malleability in post processing.

If you want to apply your own settings or apply a LUT, you will probably want to be shooting with 0 Sharpness, 0 Saturation, and -3 Contrast. That will give you the cleanest possible slate for post processing. Now, again, you need to consider the end use - if you're just messing around or shooting something for fun, you may not bother with post processing either, so using one of the other presets will deliver a more pleasing result. D-Cinelike with -3 contrast gives very flat and dull footage, it has to be processed, but will yield the best results at the end of the day.

I actually have the ND4 - ND8 - ND16 from Polar Pro but yesterday, the day where the footage comes from, it was already 5 or 6 pm and with the ND16 I had some overexposed areas, especially while facing the sun. Is it normal to always have overexposed areas, I guess, right?

I've watched some YouTube videos and some folks recommend 0 Sharpness -2 Saturation and -3 Contrast, what do you think about the -2 saturation?

I just downloaded Final Cut Pro Free Trial and it looks faster than Adobe Premiere Pro. With Adobe Premiere Pro it was almost impossible to work on footage without slowing down the Mac exponentially.
 

CanadaDrone

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I actually have the ND4 - ND8 - ND16 from Polar Pro but yesterday, the day where the footage comes from, it was already 5 or 6 pm and with the ND16 I had some overexposed areas, especially while facing the sun. Is it normal to always have overexposed areas, I guess, right?

I've watched some YouTube videos and some folks recommend 0 Sharpness -2 Saturation and -3 Contrast, what do you think about the -2 saturation?

I just downloaded Final Cut Pro Free Trial and it looks faster than Adobe Premiere Pro. With Adobe Premiere Pro it was almost impossible to work on footage without slowing down the Mac exponentially.

Ah, OK. A ND32 would be a good buy for you then I think. Polar Pro has their ND filter bundles perfectly positioned to force you to buy two different bundles, but if you buy from them directly, you can mix & match which is better.

It's normal to have overexposed areas depending on what you're shooting. In a single exposure, a camera can only expose for ONE thing - drones are no different. The more even the light, the better things are going to look. If you have areas of deep shadows and bright highlights, it's literally impossible to expose for both, so you have to pick one or the other, or try cut it in the middle. The sun, for example, is almost always going to be overexposed if it creeps into the frame. It's up to you what you want the focus of your footage to be. This is why people like shooting at "golden hour", overcast skies, or in bright, even sunlight - it's easy to nail the exposure. Partly cloudy days or areas with lots of shadows are going to force you to make compromises.

The exact settings (sat, contrast, sharpness) depend on what you are going to do to the footage later. Some LUTs that you buy (you can also make your own) are designed specifically to be applied to a certain preset (eg. 0, 0, -3). Some others might be designed for different presets. It's not a hard rule - your own preferences are most certainly a consideration as well. Basically the more "bland" you make the footage, the worse it looks straight out of the camera but the more flexible it will be in post processing. If you're shooting in a tropical area, maybe you want to dial back saturation a bit more because it already looks punchy. If you're shooting in a really dull area, maybe you want to add a little extra saturation to extenuate some colors and make it look more realistic.

Video editing is rather taxing on a computer, and it likes lots of cores/threads - I am not sure what the exact specs of your Mac are but if it's anything other than a grossly overpriced iMac Pro, it probably isn't going to rip through video footage too fast.
 

adddz

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Yes, and obviously Final Cut Pro is more optimized than Adobe Premiere on a Mac, so yeah, I think I'll start playing with Final Cut Pro.

Thank you for everything, your answers were really useful to me and I'm sure many users will find them useful too.

PS: Yes I think I have to buy a single ND32 from PolarPro at this point :)
 
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djiboi

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But it's widely known that footage looks way better at a proper shutter speed instead of shooting a video with a shutter speed of 1/2000 shutter speed, don't you think?
Filters are for motion blur not picture quality. You should always prioritise exposure over shutter speed.
 
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